Whether you consider them high intensity finger workouts or an unnecessary waste of battery charge, most of us are participants in WhatsApp groups. Batches of school or college mates, ex-employees from a past organization, or just about any coterie – the possibilities to create chat groups are endless. But before you get too emotionally attached to them or alternately, spring a surprise #Chexit, it is important to understand how chat groups evolve.

  1. Formation

The group is formed and christened by a quick-drawing cowboy, known as the administrator. With dopamine levels found only in Russian athletes, he lassoes in participants and revels in the kudos he receives for his initiative in hitting the New Group button. A bunch of founding fathers, colloquially referred to as lukhas (the jobless), appear out of nowhere and transform into human Yellow Pages. Somehow managing to eke out work slots from a calendar chock-a-block with free time, they take on the critical responsibilities of updating membership lists, tracking down phone numbers and shooting them over to Dirty Harry.

  1. Growth

There is rapid proliferation of participants as new members are welcomed with as much fervor as is possible within 1080 X 1920 pixels. Messages flash fast and furious as people reconnect and expand profile photos to check out how past crushes have aged. The founding fathers announce grand plans for reunions and get-togethers which never materialize, but who cares. And even as the chatter heads to a crescendo, one detects the group subtly splitting into three distinct categories – the chat groupies jabbering nonstop, the fence chatters who murmur an occasional greeting and a majority of silent lurkers who are all scroll, no type.

  1. Consolidation

By now, the groupies are firmly in control of the chat. The philosophers spout sagacious worldviews –

“Chaps, the problem is that some rich are getting richer but other rich are getting poorer and it’s hard to differentiate the poor-rich from the rich-rich. Unless central banks address this issue by swapping their credit derivatives, there is no hope.”

The armchair activists are perpetually aggrieved –

“Whoever ate an omelet for breakfast, I hope you know that it had a soul. Are you happy now, ass**les?”

The company swinger hypes up his employer through job posts –

“We are hiring delivery boys for our latest range of organic carcinogens. Please pass the word around – great opportunity for anyone interested in locating addresses.”

The self-trumpeters squeeze in accomplishments into every conversation.

“Speaking of how time has flown since we all met, proud to share that I have been awarded this month’s ‘Most punctual employee’. Here’s a selfie with my certificate.”

And the fence chatters immediately register their presence with a chorus of “Congratulations, Pinky!!”

Some chatter bombs favor imagery over text and travel junkies upload filtered landscapes, gastronauts snap unappetizing dishes, proud copulators post pictures of their tiny tots and the bawdysaurus unleashes risqué memes. And whenever it is quieting down, the space cadet weighs in, late at night when earth is asleep, in a stream of consciousness that has all scratching their head.

“Hold on to that thought, Parabulus! The multicolored serpent has turned my liver’s lantern into an oompa-loompa waterwheel. What shall I say to my Tau?”

Some lurkers can’t keep up with the onscreen orgy and drop out. Others tune in to the ‘chat acknowledger’ who has been commenting on or LOLing at every damn message. And some cynics form clandestine side-groups where they sneakily discuss the going-ons of the mother group.

  1. Decline

Now there’s only that much fervent discussion that can be had on the topic of nothing and most groups are unable to sustain their momentum. The chat drifts towards cordial exchange of pleasantries, birthday greetings and weather reports, interspersed with long periods of deafening silence. There is occasional drama when a contentious sermon from Plato or bawdy joke from Randyman gets someone’s goat but the policy police quickly steps in to rap some virtual knuckles.

“Folks, can we take it easy with our messages? Let’s not get all offensive and personal here and please tone it down. Like really.”

Sporadic efforts are made to energize the group but to no avail and people start to trickle away. One day the subdued administrator dismounts, unbuckles his holster and throws in the proverbial breeches. That’s the signal to cut life support and one by one participants hit Exit, finally sending the group to its digital graveyard.

Some may mourn this passing away but one must never forget that chat groups are transient but the app is permanent. It’s only a matter of time before one will attend the next offsite, seminar or course, make new acquaintances and invariably the phone will buzz.

Sid created group “Goa Conference Attendees”

Sid added you

Sid changed this group’s icon

And the cycle of group life starts all over again…….